One day in our second little apartment I heard a weird gurgling noise coming from the kitchen. I ran in and found my dishwasher had thrown up all over my kitchen floor. This was the first run through with the new dishwasher detergent, but I had added the amount the instructions directed so I figured something was up with the machine. The apartment manager thought my description of the dishwasher throwing up was hilarious and called the maintenance guys in right away (I guess humor gets you good service?). After reassuring them multiple times that I didn't add more soap than needed (or the wrong soap) to the dishwasher, they pulled it apart to see what was up. Apparently the tenants before us tried to hold a Barbie sauna party in the dishwasher because they found a barbie arm and scalp lodged in the drain, and it had caught enough soap during previous runs that the new soap was able to react with it and produce the bubbly spew of dishwasher throw-up.
Why do I tell you all this? Because it's still funny to me and to let Ellen know, "I feel your pain." How did Ellen's come about? Well let's start at the beginning. A very good place to start. When we read we begin with A-B-C, when we Pinterest we begin with "That's for me!" Ok, enough Sound of Music. We've all seen this pin, right?
The Original Pin
Cleaning the dishwasher with vinegar (and a later cycle of baking soda). I tried it once upon a time...made the surfaces pretty but it didn't make the machine quit spitting food chunks on the dishes (which I didn't figure it would as it's only really a surface cleaner, but it was worth a shot).
Ellen told us, "I'm not sure what happened - I think maybe my (admittedly crappy) dishwasher just hates vinegar, because when I tried the vinegar as Jet Dry trick a while back it caused a stain. Anyway, I tried cleaning the dishwasher with vinegar as instructed in this pin and when I happened to walk back into the kitchen about 15 minutes into the wash cycle, this is what I found. Oops."
See, her dishwasher threw up too! But if you look on the bright side, mopping the floor was easy.
Vinegar doesn't foam up like that by itself, so I have a few ideas as to what went wrong but having not been there and without getting into the dishwasher I can't be certain. So here are some theories, and they're worth everything you're paying for them.
- The original instructions say to run the vinegar through first, and then the baking soda. When I tried it I almost missed the line that says to run them through separately, but luckily I caught it in time. Vinegar and Baking Soda will react in foam, and if you run the two cycles through together you will get foam throw-up. That's is NOT what happened here, Ellen ran them through separately following the directions. I'm just saying it could happen.
- This may be a similar case to mine...not necessarily the Barbie arm and scalp, but if there was enough residual detergent in the dishwasher the vinegar could have reacted with it causing the spew.
- The only other thing I honestly can think of is that if you're like me you reuse some of your food containers. I've forgotten that the jug does not have the original contents once or twice (my vinegar jug had dish soap in it once...just about had the most interesting chicken marinade ever). Anyway, perhaps there was something else in the vinegar jug and not vinegar? I know it's a slight chance...but hey, it could happen, right?
Other than that, I honestly am stumped. There was something in the dishwasher that the vinegar reacted with, but all I can do at this point is guess.
To make the original pin work, make sure to try and clean out any chunks from the drain (as the directions suggest) and to run the vinegar and baking soda cycles through separately. This isn't the best pin for getting chunks out of the dishwasher's system (we still had chunks of food being thrown up on our dishes...sometimes the dishes were dirtier coming out than they were going in), but it is a great pin for those of us who don't really want to get on our hands and knees and climb into the dishwasher to try and scrub it down by hand. We tried a number of specific dishwasher cleaners and we even tried taking the machine apart and had no luck until we tried the Lemon Shine Machine Cleaner. If you're having troubles, this stuff is awesome and comes at a great price.